Rational Humanist Music

by Raemon 2 min read13th Jun 201152 comments


Something that's bothered me a lot lately is a lack of good music that evokes the kind of emotion that spiritually-inspired music does, but whose subject matter is something I actually believe in. Most songs that attempt to do this suffer from "too literal syndrome," wordily talking about science and rationality as if they're forming an argument, rather that simply creating poetic imagery. I was recently motivated by the Baba Yetu music video for Civilization V, which essentially showcases the power of scientific achievement over the course of human history.... but the lyrics basically attribute this to Christianity, rather than scientific progress. I'm not opposed to religious music being used for such a purpose, but I wanted to find a song that hit all the right emotional notes as well as the intellectual concepts. I think that art is an important medium by which to communicate ideas, and for rationality to be successful as a meme it's going to need "carrier wave" works of art to help it compete with religion for the general population's passion and understanding.

I've only found two songs that come close to being the specific thing I'm looking for:

Word of God


(Highly recommend good headphones/speakers for the Singularity one - there's some subtle ambient stuff that really sells the final parts that's less effective with mediocre sound)


Over the past few months I've been working on a rational humanist song. I consider myself a reasonably competent amateur songwriter when it comes to lyrics, not so much when it comes to instrumental composition. I was waiting to post something when I had an actual final version worth listening to, but it's been a month and I'm not sure how to get good instrumentation to go along with it and I'm just in the mood to share the lyrics. I'd appreciate both comments on the song, as well as recommendations for good, similar music that already exists. And on the off chance someone likes it enough to try putting it to the music, that'd be awesome. (I don't mind other people using the lyrics for non-profit purposes, I do mind using them for profit purposes)


Brighter than Today

Many winter nights ago
A woman shivered in the cold
Stared at the sky and wondered why the gods invented pain.
She bitterly struck rock together
Wishing that her life was better
Suddenly she saw the spark of light and golden flame.

She showed the others, but they told her
She was not meant to control
The primal forces that the gods had cloaked in mystery.
But proud and angry, she defied them
She would not be satisfied.
She lit a fire and set in motion human history.

Tomorrow can be brighter than today,
Although the night is cold
And the stars may feel so very far away


But every mind can be a golden ray
Of courage hope and reason
Surely we can find a better way.

Ages since but not yet now
We built the wheel, and then the plow
We tilled the earth and proved our worth against the drought and snow;
Soon we had the time to ponder
Look up to the sky and wonder
Could there be some deeper meaning we were meant to know?

Tomorrow can be brighter than today,
Although the night is cold
And stars may feel so very far away.
But futures can unfold where
Courage, hope and reason grow
with every passing season so
we'll shed the lies that tie us down
And seek truths ever more profound
And drive the darkness far away.
Tomorrow can be brighter than today

Brighter than today 

The universe many seem unfair
And the laws of nature do not care
The plagues and storms and our own evils nearly doused our flame
But all these things, we have endured
Through morals learned, diseases cured.
Against our Herculean tasks we've risen to proclaim:

Tomorrow can be brighter than today,
Although the night's still cold
The stars won't always be so far away
If I may be so bold
It doesn't have to be this way
Each human mind's a golden ray
of courage, hope and reason
Each and every passing season
We can seek the truths that make us stronger
Build the world that we all long for
Strive for lives of joy and meaning
Shine a light that's always gleaming
Rise up to the stars and say:
Tomorrow will be brighter than today!

Tomorrow will be brighter than today!

I know it will be brighter than today.


(This is, essentially, a fan-song for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, inspired in particular by chapter 47)